Perfection is said to be as much a curse as it is a blessing, especially for creative types. We record, edit, mix audio or shoot, cut and grade video and often we just can’t leave it alone, or indeed be satisfied with the end results. When asking creatives if they are happy with their past work, many will tell you “no.” I listen to albums I made 10 years ago and want to go back and replace snares, or watch videos I cut 5 years ago and want to re-grade them.
Add money into the equation and the problem gets even harder. We strive for perfection, but within limited time and financial constrains (in fact, the two are intrinsically linked when you work as a professional). There is a danger of wanting to cut corners, especially when on tight deadlines, however many of us simply work longer and inevitably for free to deliver a great project.
For many of us (and this is partly why so many creative businesses fail) our primary motivation is not money; it is our desire for excellence if not perfection.
This weekend, I spent hours cutting videos which required some complex audio work too. I was on a tight deadline so I just got up at 5 a.m. and worked until midnight to make sure I was satisfied that every video edit, dialogue stream, music bed, colour grade etc. were as good as they could be. I know I’m not the exception and that many of you reading this are exactly the same. You too will work more hours than you should or are getting paid for. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, I’m simply stating the facts.
Our clients often never know the lengths we go to when working on their projects; they certainly won’t pay for half the work we did in the name of perfection.
It’s a difficult balance on the one hand being a creative professional with a budget and on the other hand a personal desire to do the best we can. It’s the little things that take a project from good to great but as I’ve already alluded to most of us seldom feel we have done that despite our best efforts.
Our desire to do the best we can drives us and perhaps clients know this and take advantage? I’m sure some do but I also know that most of my clients are hugely appreciative of creatives who are conscientious in their work and this is why they keep hiring us.
There’s a lot of stuff we do on projects that take them to another level, the little details that we can spend hours on and no one even notices them, but often it’s those things that make the difference.
Still much of the time our clients don’t know when we’ve gone that extra mile, but we can be satisfied with the effort we have put into a project and hopefully the shortfull between what it cost and what we got paid won’t ruin us.